We have made several pilgrimages to the northern end of Vancouver Island during even year summers to fly fish for pink salmon in the beach surf. With chest waders pulled up tight, we wade those clear northern pacific waters in search of schools of pink salmon that arrive around mid August and swim near the ocean shore waiting for the rains to swell the rivers. Port Hardy is our supply base and rivers such as the Keogh and the Cluxewe harbour excellent runs of pink salmon every second year. While waiting near the river mouths for the right water conditions to go upstream, these northern pinks leap often and freely, silver flashes against bright summer sunshine, so the schools are not hard to locate. The trick is to find a fly to entice them to strike and I have found that smaller flies in combinations of florescent pink are often the answer!
While wading the ocean for these pinks, I never cease to be amazed at how close to shore and how shallow the fish can be caught on a fly. Therefore, I prefer to use a dry line or a slow sink tip flyline with lots of backing and a 9 to 10 foot flyrod to carry my casts to cruising fish, sometimes very close but occasionally at maximum casting range. Generally the trick is to use a very slow retrieve with a fly that is predominately radiant pink. The fish may change fly preferences daytime to evening but the fly described in this month's article will work under most conditions.
Begin by tying in a small amount of pink marabou for the tail which should project only about 1/4 inch past the hook bend. Next, wrap in a solid layer of silver ribbing to cover the back third of the hook shank. Continue on to the hook eye with radiant pink chenille but temporarily tie off the chenille before reaching the hook eye. Now take a small amount of polar bear hair and tie in a wing that lies fairly flat along the top of the fly. It should not project any longer than the length of the tail. Then finish wrapping the radiant pink chenille to the hook eye, covering the small section of tied down polar bear hair and tie off. At this point, a sparse pink marabou throat hackle is optional but I have found that the fly catches fish just as well without the hackle! Add a touch of head cement and you are finished. In my experience, early day fish seem to prefer a fly with more radiant pink in the body and when the sun leaves the water in the evening, the fish like a fly with more white polar bear hair in the wing. These fish are not large, ranging from 2 to 7 pounds, but often the take is very hard and a series of jumps is not at all uncommon. For those that enjoy a catch and release fishery for these small salmon, be sure to carry a good supply of these pink salmon flies!
Your comments are welcome at "dhaaheim at telus dot net"
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